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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

n6                         Egyptian Art
armies penetrated as far as Memphis or Thebes. In Nubia and
in the Sudan cities were founded, and an empire was established,
whose whole civilization was derived from the Egyptian. During
the Twenty-sixth Dynasty the first Hellenic trading-stations
were opened in the Delta; during the Twenty-seventh, the
armies of Persia transformed Egypt into a satrapy of the Persian
Empire. In their struggle against foreign domination the last
Pharaohs were constantly appealing to the generals of Athens
or Sparta.
It is scarcely credible that these continual contacts, these
commercial movements and conflicts of empires could have
taken place without causing a transmission of Egyptian tech-
nique both to Asia and to Europe. But this technique did not
make its way only as a workshop secret; far more frequently it
was spread by means of finished articles with their Egyptian
individuality and their characteristic ornament. The palaces
of Persepolis, the ivories of Syria or of Nimroud, the engraved
bowls known as 'Phoenician', the ornaments on textiles and
embroideries in various countries show the extent to which the
Egyptians had spread their designs over the world, from the
mountains of Persia to the shores of the Mediterranean.
When the Greeks came into regular contact with Egypt, their
artistic genius received the fertilizing impulse needed to set it
in motion. In two centuries Greek art was to attain a level of
perfection which has remained ever since a model for mankind.
Much discussion has already centred on the attitude which
criticism should adopt towards Egyptian and Greek art. Some
tend to exaggerate the role played by Egypt in the development
of classical art; others, on principle, must one say, or out of
respect for the Greek miracle, would like to reduce Greek
borrowings from Egypt to a minimum. If judgement is based
on the works of art themselves, it is impossible not to be struck
by the rapid development of art in Greece and in Ionia from
the moment when Europeans first had an opportunity of seeing